The spine-chilling final words of a pilot before his plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board, have been revealed.
On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447, on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, crashed just four hours after takeoff.
The incident took the lives of 228 people including five British nationals among the passengers.
It took investigators two years to find and remove the aeroplane wreckage and its complete black box from the ocean floor some 620 miles off Brazil’s northeastern coast.
The French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) ruled that the autopilot suddenly disengaged during the flight due to the presence of ice crystals in what remains Air France’s biggest disaster to date.
As a result of the crew’s reaction to the failure, the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall.
The pilots originally dealt with an issue with the air-speed data, but they then made a key blunder by pitching the plane’s nose up instead of down when it stalled.
The terrible loss of 228 lives was caused by a combination of technical failure and the pilots’ inability to adequately respond to the aircraft’s stall, forcing it to drop into the Atlantic Ocean at a stunning rate of 11,000 feet (3,352 metres) per minute.
Investigators obtained a cockpit tape in which the first officer and copilot, Pierre-Cédric Bonin, 32, was heard expressing shock and admitting: “I don’t have control of the airplane at all!”
The flight’s relieving first officer and co-pilot, David Robert, 37, answered with ‘controls to the left’ before taking command and moving his side stick forward to lower the nose and recover from the stall.
Bonin, on the other hand, proceeded to draw his side-stick back, resulting in conflicting inputs and an audible “dual input” warning.
The captain, Marc Dubois, aged 58, returned to the cockpit as summoned by Robert. Amidst multiple alarms sounding, he inquired of the duo: “Er, what are you doing?”
Robert responded to Captain Dubois: “We’ve lost all control of the aeroplane, we don’t understand anything, we’ve tried everything.”
He can then be heard murmuring to himself, “climb, climb, climb, climb”.
In response, Bonin stated: “But I’ve been at maximum nose-up for a while!”
A horrified Dubois realized that Bonin’s actions were causing the aircraft to stall and urgently shouted: “No no no, don’t climb! No No No!”
Bonin briefly handed over control to Robert, but the aircraft was too near to the ground at that point to recover from the stall. The impending crash into the ocean was detected by a ground proximity warning system.
In reaction, Bonin reflexively drew his side-stick back, showing his horror and yelling: “We’re going to crash! This can’t be true. But what’s happening?”